5 Truths to Remember When Searching for a Church Home
- Jessica Bufkin Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2014 1 Jan
I’m moving next month.
Even when a person is looking forward to a move to a new state, like I am, there are still a myriad of emotions that accompany change. Because, let’s face it, the change doesn’t happen in just one or two areas overnight. It’s constant and it’s everywhere.
The biggest change, though, is one I’ve been trying to push to the back of my mind for quite some time. It both thrills me and terrifies me. I love the possibilities, but not the process.
It’s finding a new church home.
Everyone, myself included, hates the term “church shopping,” but it feels like that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
Singles group or no singles group?
Small groups or Sunday School?
Megachurch, smaller church, or church plant?
A neighborhood church or one that’s 30 minutes away?
See, I’m in my mid-thirties so I’ve been at this single life for a while. I’ve been a part of a great singles ministry, and I’ve been part of an encouraging women’s small group. I also have been part of a church with only one community group option not designated for couples. Then there was the young singles class that also dissolved at another church, or the times I’ve chosen to serve in the children’s/youth/college ministry because I didn’t really have a “place.”
I’ve seen it all.
And yet…I still keep coming back.
It’s exhausting—the process of researching, visiting, praying about, and choosing a church. But beginning next month, I will get up on Sunday mornings, walk into churches by myself, visit singles groups and small groups by myself, and I will keep doing it by myself until the Spirit tells me that I’ve found my “home.”
There will be Sundays I won’t want to roll out of bed and do it again, but I will go anyway because I believe deeply in the Word of God and what it tells me about being involved in community. Verses such as,
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42, ESV).
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5, NIV).
So in the event I grow weary in my search, I’ve written down a few additional truths I’ll need to remember:
No church is perfect.
I could tell myself this 100 times, and it still won’t be enough. God uses flawed humans to share his love with the world. Every person sitting in that worship service on Sunday morning needs the same grace I do. I should be quick to offer it to them instead of assuming the worst. It is an important truth to remember even when I do find a church, as people will always fall short but God still loves and uses us regardless. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
I am not a consumer.
I’ll remind myself to reject superficial tendencies in my decision-making and to tread any personal preferences carefully. If teaching is theologically unsound, that’s one thing, but tearing down the Body of Christ isn’t good and doesn’t help with my motivation either. Complaining about how the church does or does not minister to singles leaves the focus squarely on my self. I do need to be ministered to, but there are many ways that can take place.
The two most important factors are people and fruit. Is it a loving, serving, missions-minded church? Is there sound Biblical teaching, true discipleship, and obedience? And if so, how can I use the gifts I’ve been given to help strengthen this church?
In all areas of my life, I’m trying to focus on Paul’s words to the Galatians: “…the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6, NIV). It is especially applicable when seeking a church home.
I can’t rush the process nor can I procrastinate.
Finding a church home might take more time than I would like. I’ll probably want to give up several times, or I’ll want to prioritize other things, such as travel or home improvement projects, so I can avoid dealing with it.
It will be important for me to walk through this season without wasting it. No one likes to wait, but the waiting and the difficulty are there for a purpose. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Take a risk.
There have been times in my life when I just knew I was supposed to be at a church. It immediately felt as if my heart was at home. There have been other times, though, when I wasn’t completely sure but I needed to step out in faith.
Being a part of a community of believers will require risk. Joining a church is just the first step. I’ll have to risk my comfort again in order to find a small group, a place of service, or simply meeting new people. It will be a while before I look around and realize that my heart is truly at home among a group of believers, but I know from experience that it will be worth every ounce of faith it took to get me to that place.
Ultimately, if I’m not seeking God in prayer, hearing the Spirit’s leading will prove difficult. I need to be praying—not only for wisdom in the search—but also for the church I’ll one day be committed to, for the churches I’ve visited, and the churches I’ve yet to visit.
What other reminders to you tell yourself when seeking a new church home?
A former junior high English teacher, Jessica Bufkin currently serves as Editor for SingleRoots, a website that encourages Christian singles to be intentional with their lives and offers many resources for to assist them, including a review of Christian dating sites.
Publication date: January 28, 2014